Wrapping up a full decade of being associated with the Independent, and with the work schedule allowing for more End Zone pieces in the days ahead, the timing seems right to revive one of the more popular topics from past years. You guessed it, a roundup with predictions for the college bowl games.
Yes, the bowl season actually started last Saturday, so eight games already are in the books before you read this. But that's certainly no big deal, because the oversaturation of bowls has become ridiculous with five to seven teams needed to fill the last spots.
Only a couple of those early games deserved a second look, and the others weren't worth our time and space. It was encouraging to see the Mountain West Conference jump out to a 2-0 start, with San Diego State wrapping up an 11-3 season with an impressive 34-10 romp past Houston, and New Mexico holding off Texas-San Antonio. If that's any indication, the Mountain West will enhance its national credentials during this bowl season.
So for our purposes here, let's just think of the 2016 bowl calendar as starting tonight (Wednesday, Dec. 21) with an interesting matchup in the Poinsettia Bowl at San Diego, Brigham Young vs. Wyoming. Actually, my hope was that Air Force would face BYU there to renew that relationship, but instead the Falcons (9-3) settled for the Arizona Bowl nine days later, when they'll be two-touchdown favorites against South Alabama.
The good news is that all three of Colorado's major-college programs have a chance to win their bowl games, something that hasn't happened in recent memory.
The national story, of course, will be the playoffs for the national title. But don't be expecting any huge shockers, with Alabama looking so dominant through the regular season.
With that, here's the remaining bowl menu (avoiding sponsor names as much as possible):
Dec. 21, Poinsettia: BYU 34, Wyoming 30. Worth watching on ESPN.
Dec. 22, Idaho Potato: Colorado State 41, Idaho 24. CSU looks strong for next year, and this is a good opportunity to make a statement.
Dec. 23, Bahamas: Old Dominion 30, Eastern Michigan 26. Really?
Dec. 23, Armed Forces: Navy 27, Louisiana Tech 24. Middies on the rebound.
Dec. 23, Mobile: Ohio 23, Troy 21. Boring.
Dec. 24, Hawaii: Middle Tennessee 40, Hawaii 38. UH can't score enough.
Dec. 26, St. Petersburg: Mississippi State 34, Miami (Ohio) 6. Zzzzz.
Dec. 26, Detroit: Maryland 20, Boston College 17. Who cares? Also-rans.
Dec. 26, Independence: Vanderbilt 31, North Carolina State 28. Good game.
Dec. 27, Heart of Dallas: Army 44, North Texas 30. Nice finish for Army.
Dec. 27, Military: Temple 37, Wake Forest 16. Temple deserved better.
Dec. 27, Holiday: Washington State 38, Minnesota 27. Too much offense.
Dec. 27, Cactus: Boise State 39, Baylor 20. Wish it could've been Air Force-Baylor, since the Falcons didn't meet BYU.
Dec. 28, Pinstripe: Pittsburgh 16, Northwestern 13. No comment warranted.
Dec. 28, Orlando: West Virginia 33, Miami 32. Entertaining shootout.
Dec. 28, Santa Clara: Utah 24, Indiana 13. Utes underrated.
Dec. 28, Texas: Kansas State 36, Texas A&M 31. Finale for KSU's Bill Snyder?
Dec. 29, Birmingham: South Florida 17, South Carolina 12. Don't bother.
Dec. 29, Charlotte: Arkansas 29, Virginia Tech 27. Upset special.
Dec. 29, Alamo: Colorado 26, Oklahoma State 23. Happy trails, Sefo Liufau, as the CU senior quarterback wins his finale in San Antonio.
Dec. 30, Liberty: Georgia 30, TCU 20. Meaningless but interesting.
Dec. 30, Sun: North Carolina 28, Stanford 20. Guilt trip for Stanford's Denver-bred Christian McCaffrey, skipping this because he's jumping to the NFL.
Dec. 30, Music City: Tennessee 37, Nebraska 24. Home advantage.
Dec. 30, Arizona: Air Force 48, South Alabama 34. Lots of offense on both sides, and the Falcons finish 10-3 in convincing fashion led by Arion Worthman.
Dec. 30, Orange: Michigan 22, Florida State 19. Consolation prize in Miami.
Dec. 31, Citrus: LSU 27, Louisville 25. Even without Leonard Fournette.
Dec. 31, Gator: Georgia Tech 20, Kentucky 13. Sleep late instead.
Dec. 31, Peach: Alabama 38, Washington 17. No suspense.
Dec. 31, Fiesta: Ohio State 41, Clemson 37. Urban Meyer lives.
Jan. 2, Tampa: Iowa 16, Florida 13. Cure for insomnia.
Jan. 2, Cotton: Western Michigan 33, Wisconsin 29. Just a hunch.
Jan. 2, Rose: Southern Cal 30, Penn State 16. USC deserved playoff spot.
Jan. 2, Sugar: Auburn 43, Oklahoma 34. Could go the other way.
Jan. 9, Championship: Alabama 38, Ohio State 21. Forget about it. Roll Tide.